Aug 16, 2015

9 Reasons To Always Create...Something!

You may be telling yourself that there just isn’t enough time to paint, or to draw, or to write that novel you’ve had in your head for…how long has it been now?  Or perhaps you let fear stand in your way of singing, or dancing, or songwriting…even though it can be a completely private act if you choose for it to be.

For as many excuses as there are for not creating something new on a regular basis, there are just as many reasons to make it a part of your daily routine.  Here are just a few:

1.  To Feel Good

(as long as you don’t let self-judgement get in the way)

You don’t have to be the next Picasso to benefit from expressing yourself creatively.  No matter the preferred medium, creative expression has proven to help elevate mood as the act of focusing is a mediation of it’s own.  The key is to focus on the process.  How does it feel to pull a wet brush across dry paper?  Or to gently pluck strings that send sweet tones to your ears?  You'll know that you've found the right creative outlet when the process alone incites pure joy or a natural high.  Stop focusing on output! The experience alone is worth the effort.

2.  To Open Your Creative Floodgates

Starting the process is usually the hardest part, whether you’re staring in a panic at a blank page, or just avoiding and making excuses in general.  But, once you start you’ll likely find that momentum kicks in, the floodgates open, your panic will transform into enthusiasm, and all of the ideas that have been stuck and stuffed inside you are eager to come out…all you need to do is provide a medium.  You may even fall into creative habits, like carrying a sketchbook with you because you’re using it and need it easily accessible…not because you are forcing yourself to do so.  

3.  To Remember To See The World From a Different Perspective

The world looks different through creative eyes.  What was once mundane becomes packed with meaning and metaphor.  Strangers become muses.  Everything around you seems more interesting as it is potential material or inspiration.  A deeper intimacy can be reached with familiar places that may otherwise be overlooked.  

4.  To Face Your Fears

The courageous act of doing something you are afraid of is an accomplishment in itself.  Identifying and facing your fears will empower you.  Every artist encounters fear in many aspects of the creative process.  You don’t have to wait for your time on the couch with your psychotherapist to deal with it…just paint.  If you really hate it, you can always destroy it (at least that ugliness is out of your mind and body)!  

Book recommendation: Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

by David Bayles and Ted Orland

5.  To Learn To Let Go

Ditch masterpiece syndrome and instead master peace. 

Not everything you create is going to be your next masterpiece, so don’t expect it to be.  Some of your work will annoy you, deter you, or even enrage you…and that’s okay…for two main reasons:  

1)  That painting that drudges up turmoil doesn’t need to be framed or even saved.  

2)  You can move on to another piece and start fresh.  

An early lesson in art school is that it is better to learn your lessons from the mistakes of the last project and start fresh than it is to toil over the same piece indefinitely.  You will progress faster if you just move on.  

6.  To Surprise Yourself

The more practice you put in, the more opportunities you will have to surprise yourself.  “Happy accidents” in art are those moments when something unexpected, usaully a mistake, makes your work even better than you had planned it to be.  Like, when you accidentally spill your muddied water on your clean canvas and find that it creates a sophisticated background effect.  

Once you’re past the initial logistics of squeezing creativity into your day, you can become open to discoveries about the medium, yourself, your preferences, or the world around you.  You may even find your personal niche.

7. To Define Your Preferences

Whether you love photographing people, textures, or landscapes…the only way to know is to start, and notice what draws your attention.  You might think that you don’t have any interest whatsoever in photographing people, but then may find that the challenge of capturing the fast moving action of a soccer game is invigorating.  Experimenting will lead you to your preferences of subject and medium.  You may think that you want to paint, but actually love the process of drawing.  Your preferences are an important part of defining yourself as an artist, and will help you to determine how to best spend your time and resources.  

8.  To Hone Your Skills

Practice does make perfect.  But more importantly, mastering an art form allows you to forget about the technical aspects, and just purely express yourself.  Honing your skills may also allow you to eventually turn your hobby into an income generator that at least pays for itself.

9.  To Feed Your Soul!

Creative expression is one way for your soul to communicate with you and others.  It may illuminate your deepest darkest fears, or your true desires.  Either way, it will benefit you in ways that could not be achieved through a nexflix series binge-watching session.  So what are you waiting for? 

Action plan:

First, generate a list of activities that have been a complete waste of your time.

(Primetime TV may well be at the top of the list).

Next:  Pick a creative outlet.

sketching…writing…songwriting…interpretive dance…underwater basket-weaving….

Then:  Make a committment to either:

- a certain number of “sessions” or

- an amount of time that you will practice it.   

Whether you decide to commit to 5 minutes everyday, 5 hours for the entire week, 10 articles, or 200 photos, write it down, and

Then, of course:  Follow through. 

(You may want to illicit the help of a supportive friend to add an extra level of accountability).

Finally:  Reward yourself for meeting your goal!

Don’t worry about the quality of the finished product yet….just do it for the sake of doing it…for the joy of the process!